The 2014 heroes awards breakfast will feature guest speaker Jessica Buchanan Landemalm.
Jessica was born in Portland, Oregon, but spent her formative years growing up outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2003, Buchanan moved to the greater Philadelphia area to pursue a degree in education, and she began to travel during her summer months, teaching and volunteering in Honduras, South Sudan and Rwanda. She secured a student teaching position at an international school based in Nairobi, Kenya, The Rosslyn Academy, and was offered a full time teaching position at that school, which she happily accepted. She later moved to Hargeisa, Somaliland, where she was offered a job as the regional education adviser, also spending time in conflict zones in South Sudan, Uganda and Somalia for the Danish Demining Group, the mine action unit of Danish Refugee Council.
After a staff training visit, in the field office of South Galkayo, Somalia, Buchanan, along with her colleague, a Danish citizen, were abducted by a group of Somalis on October 25, 2011. She was held outdoors for 93 days in deplorable conditions, terrorized by drugged out thugs who demanded a 45 million dollar ransom for her freedom. Her liberation came on the evening of January 25, 2012, when the esteemed Seal Team IV came in to rescue her.
A little over 9 months after her rescue, Jessica welcomed her first child, a baby boy named August. She currently resides in the Washington DC area with her husband Erik and son August, speaking about her experience and different African issues regarding education and the plight of child soldiers.